From SourceWatch
Jump to navigation Jump to search

This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

Burson-Marsteller (B-M) is one of the world's largest PR companies. In a listing of PR companies with crisis capabilities, the American Meat Institute listed B-M as having "made its name in crisis communications during the Tylenol tampering case."[1] According to The Guardian, "The world's biggest PR company was employed by the Nigerian government to discredit reports of genocide during the Biafran war, the Argentinian junta after the disappearance of 35,000 civilians, and the Indonesian government after the massacres in East Timor. It also worked to improve the image of the late Romanian president Nicolae Ceausescu and the Saudi royal family. Its corporate clients have included the Three Mile Island nuclear plant, which suffered a partial meltdown in 1979, Union Carbide after the Bhopal gas leak killed up to 15,000 people in India, BP after the sinking of the Torrey Canyon oil tanker in 1967 and the British government after BSE emerged. In the past few years it has acted for big tobacco companies and the European biotechnology industry to challenge the green lobby and counter Greenpeace arguments on GM food."[2]

MSNBC's Rachel Maddow described B-M as follows in August 2012:[3]

"Who's Burson-Marsteller? Well, let me put it this way -- when Blackwater killed those 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad, they called Burson-Marsteller. When there was a nuclear meltdown at Three Mile Island, Bobcock & Wilcox, who built that plant, called Burson-Marsteller.
"[After the] Bhopal chemical disaster that killed thousands of people in India, Union Carbide called Burson-Marsteller. Romanian dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu -- Burson-Marsteller. The government of Saudi Arabia, three days after 9/11 -- Burson-Marsteller.
"The military junta that overthrew the government of Argentina in 1976, the generals dialed Burson-Marsteller. The government of Indonesia, accused of genocide in East Timor, Burson-Marsteller.
"The government of Nigeria, accused of genocide in Biafra, Burson- Marsteller. Philip Morris, Burson-Marsteller. Silicone breast implants, Burson-Marsteller. The government of Columbia trying to make all those dead union organizers not getting in the way of the new trade deal, they called Burson-Marsteller.
"Do you remember Aqua Dots? Little toy beads coded with something that turned into to date rape drug when kids put the beads in their mouths and all these kids ended up in comas? Yes, even the date rape Aqua Dots people called Burson-Marsteller.
"When evil needs public relations, evil has Burson-Marsteller on speed dial. That`s why it was creepy that Hillary Clinton`s pollster and chief strategist in her presidential campaign was Mark Penn, CEO of Burson- Marsteller."[3]

B-M is a part of Young & Rubicam Group, a subsidiary of the WPP Group.[4] Its global practice is led by Donald A. Baer,[5] former Clinton White House Communications Director and speechwriter.[6] Other key personnel include global chief operating officer Patrick Przybyski and U.S. CEO Dave DenHerder[5] (former CEO of Direct Impact[7]).

B-M subsidiaries and partners within the WPP Group of companies include Proof Integrated Communications, Prime Policy Group, Direct Impact, and Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates.

Documents Contained at the Anti-Environmental Archives
Documents written by or referencing this person or organization are contained in the Anti-Environmental Archive, launched by Greenpeace on Earth Day, 2015. The archive contains 3,500 documents, some 27,000 pages, covering 350 organizations and individuals. The current archive includes mainly documents collected in the late 1980s through the early 2000s by The Clearinghouse on Environmental Advocacy and Research (CLEAR), an organization that tracked the rise of the so called "Wise Use" movement in the 1990s during the Clinton presidency. Access the index to the Anti-Environmental Archives here.


2013: Representing Companies Involved in European Horse Meat Scandal

In early 2013, foods sold in Europe as containing beef were found to contain undeclared horse meat, as much as 100 percent of the meat content in some cases.[8] One of the major companies and products involved was Findus beef lasagna. Findus employed B-M for crisis communications in relation to the scandal, according to The Guardian: "A spokesman from Burson Marsteller, the damage limitation PR experts employed by Findus, said that the beef in the Findus beef lasagne had been found in tests to be on average 60 percent horsemeat, but added that beef only accounted for 15 percent of the product anyway."[9]

2012: "Massive Campaign" for Pete Peterson's "Fix the Debt" Astroturf Supergroup

The Campaign to Fix the Debt is the latest incarnation of a decades-long effort by former Nixon man turned Wall Street billionaire Pete Peterson to slash earned benefit programs such as Social Security and Medicare under the guise of fixing the nation's "debt problem."

Proof Integrated Communications' ad campaign for Peter Peterson's "Fix the Debt" organization (Source: PR Week, 11/16/12)

With a staff of 80 and a budget targeted to $60 million, $40 million of which was raised by February 2013, Fix the Debt is best described as an "Astroturf supergroup." According to PR Week, Fix the Debt has numerous Washington, D.C. PR firms/lobby shops helping it, many of whom also lobby for Fix the Debt firms. These include DCI Group,[10] Glover Park Group,[11] and Dewey Square Group,[12] which have lobbied for multiple Fix the Debt corporations in multiple years. For example, DCI Group lobbied for Morgan Stanley on tax issues in 2006[13] and 2007.[14] Fix the Debt is also using Proof Integrated Communications (PIC), a unit of the PR firm Burson-Marsteller, for its aggressive advertising push.[15] As Fix the Debt creates more Astroturf state chapters, they also engage PR firms at the state level to carry their message.

In the run-up to the “fiscal cliff,” these firms launched a flashy $3 million media ad campaign, blanketing Capitol Hill with TV, Internet, Metro and newspaper ads.[16] PIC's portion of the campaign included "parody recreations of well-known advertising slogans," such as: the slogan "i'm fixin' it" on a carton of fries to imitate the McDonald's "i'm lovin' it" campaign; the slogan "Got debt?" to imitate the famous "Got milk?" dairy ad campaign; and the slogan "Just fix it" to imitate the Nike "Just do it" campaign.[15]

Fix the Debt CEOs are treated with fawning respect by the mainstream media. Fix the Debt’s David Cote "brings serious financial muscle to the table" when he pushes "market credible solutions," says the Wall Street Journal.[17] Cote is free to lecture the country on the hazards of Social Security, given his $78 million dollars in personal pension assets. The fact that he underfunds his employees’ pensions by $2.7 billion[18] is never noted; and the fact that he heads a company paying a negative tax rate (-0.7 percent)[19] is apparently not considered relevant.

December 2012 TV ad produced for Fix the Debt

The campaign had the most presence in the Washington, D.C. area, but Bassik said that "future iterations of the effort will use images of regular people to show lawmakers that constituents also want a bi-partisan deal to take place." Fix the Debt's other PR agency partners, DCI Group, Glover Park Group, and Dewey Square Group, were to do additional research and "find average citizens."[15] Dewey Square and DCI are also handling "grass-roots outreach" -- i.e. Astroturf -- for the campaign, according to Politico, and "firms are still pitching the coalition, hoping to get business for potential television ads" as of December 5, 2012.[20]

On December 16, 2012, Fix the Debt released its first television ad (see video), with a six-figure buy, featuring "interviews with several Americans who talk about their concerns over America’s debt" and accompanying text, "We need to do more than avoid the fiscal cliff."[16]

Burson-Marsteller's Johanna Schneider told PR Week that the ad campaign was the biggest public policy campaign she had seen in some time. It also included full-page ads in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Hill, Roll Call, Politico, and National Journal.[15] Politico reported of Fix the Debt's campaign, "Message men, lobbyists, grassroots firms[,] and lawyers are raking in cash . . . It's a classic Washington phenomenon: Ahead of a major deal, corporate clients and other groups pay a premium to the Washington influence machinery to make sure their interests are protected."

Visit the Fix the Debt main page on SourceWatch.org to learn more about this PR effort backing a Simpson-Bowles style austerity bill.

This article is part of the Center for Media and Democracy's investigation of Pete Peterson's Campaign to "Fix the Debt." Please visit our main SourceWatch page on Fix the Debt.

About Fix the Debt
The Campaign to Fix the Debt is the latest incarnation of a decades-long effort by former Nixon man turned Wall Street billionaire Pete Peterson to slash earned benefit programs such as Social Security and Medicare under the guise of fixing the nation's "debt problem." Through a special report and new interactive wiki resource, the Center for Media and Democracy -- in partnership with the Nation magazine -- exposes the funding, the leaders, the partner groups, and the phony state "chapters" of this astroturf supergroup. Learn more at PetersonPyramid.org and in the Nation magazine.

2012: Attempts to Ally First Nations People with Logging Companies in Canada

In 2012, the Canadian arm of B-M, National Public Relations] (NPR), "was behind a campaign to ally First Nation peoples with their clients, the logging companies, against environmentalists fighting clearcutting of British Columbia's old growth forests," according to Natural Life.[21]

2011: Courting Op-Ed Writer to "Smear" Google

In May 2011, according to O'Dwyer's PR Blog, B-M executive John Mercurio (who formerly wrote for the National Journal) tapped blogger and privacy advocate Chris Soghoian to write an op-ed claiming that Google’s Social Circle email feature allegedly violates the privacy of users. When Mercurio refused to name his client, Soghoian posted their email exchange online.[22] In the outrage that followed, in which B-M continued to decline to name its client, a Facebook spokesperson confirmed to The Daily Beast that the social media company had hired B-M because "it believes Google is doing some things in social networking that raise privacy concerns; second, and perhaps more important, Facebook resents Google’s attempts to use Facebook data in its own social-networking service."[23] A Facebook spokesperson later told the Wall Street Journal that "the company didn't authorize or intend to run a 'smear' campaign but wanted to highlight that Facebook didn't approve of Google's data collection."[24] O'Dwyer's called the practice of tapping a writer to pen an op-ed smearing a client's competition a "common PR tactic," but B-M called the situation "highly unusual" and said in a statement that "this was not at all standard operating procedure and is against our policies."[22] A resulting op-ed in Tech Crunch called the episode and B-M's and Facebook's behavior "Scummy. Sleazy. Sordid. A true class act."[25]

Work for Corporations Which Perform Animal Testing

B-M has performed "lucrative work" for Unilever, AstraZeneca, and GlaxoSmithKline -- which perform animal testing -- according to the Daily Mail.[26]

2010: Representation of "Suicide Factory" Foxconn

In 2010, "after nine separate incidents involving workers leaping to their deaths as a result of overly strenuous working conditions," Chinese megafactory and outsourced producer of Apple products Foxconn was labeled "the suicide factory." So, facing an "international PR nightmare," the company hired Burson-Marsteller. Mark Penn told Ad Age that "there are certain outreaches we have assisted them with" -- including "an all-access Bloomberg Businessweek cover story in mid-September. In the article, which included interviews with employees about working conditions, Mr. Gou discussed his company, his personal life and the suicides. He admitted that it wasn't until the fifth one that he decided to do something different. (And it wasn't until after the ninth suicide that the company sought the help of a PR agency adept at handling a crisis.)"[27]

The Foxconn scandal erupted all over again in 2012, with numerous media outlets pointing out its connections to Apple's iPhone and the continuing poor work conditions, including riots.[28]

2008: Pushing Ethanol

Burson-Marsteller's Neil Grace works with Monsanto, Dupont, Archer Daniels Midland pushing their front group the Alliance for Abundant Food and Energy, announced July 24, 2008. The Washington Post reports, "A group of the world's biggest agribusiness companies announced it will use lobbyists on Capitol Hill and national ads to build the case for fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel, even as grain prices climb worldwide. The biofuels industry has blossomed under federal mandates requiring the United States to increase alternative fuel usage by 2009. The mandates are under attack from groups who blame the new industry for rising food prices that have sparked riots and hoarding in several countries. ... The alliance has a budget of several million dollars for the campaign, but it did not disclose the exact amount."[29]

U.S. Government PR Contracts

According to The Hill, Burson-Marsteller received $5.97 million in stimulus funds in 2008 for "to work on a public-relations campaign to advertise the national switch from analog to digital television. Nearly $2.8 million of the contract was awarded through a subcontract to Penn's polling firm, Penn, Schoen & Berland, according to federal records."[30]

In March 2005, PR Week reported that Burson-Marsteller won a $4.6 million contract through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Urban Area Security Initiative grant program. The contract, for two to seven months' work, was "for the development and implementation of a regional public awareness and education campaign for a major emergency or disaster, such as a terrorist act," in Washington DC. "The effort's goal is to have 50% of people in the national capital area report that they've taken steps to be prepared," reported PR Week. "In addition to conducting PR and research, Burson will partner with ad and community-outreach agencies," Burson-Marsteller's Chris Simko told PR Week, adding that "33% to 50% of the budget will go toward advertising."[31]

According to the U.S. House Committee on Government Reform Minority Office, Burson-Marsteller received $1,878,636 in federal PR contracts in 2003.[32]

According to the Public Relations Society of America's Silver Anvil award records and global public affairs chief Richard Mintz, some of Burson-Marsteller's federal contracts have included work for the Census Bureau on participation rates; Bureau of Engraving and Printing on “Introducing the New Color of Money” (the $20 bill redesign);[33] Department of the Treasury on money laundering enforcement; and Postal Service on “Managing Communication During the Anthrax Crisis.”

2008: Nuclear Industry

In February 2008, the nuclear company Exelon paid Burson-Marsteller $230,627.05, coded as "public affairs." Exelon said the work involved the Exelon-funded pro-nuclear group New Jersey Affordable, Clean, Reliable Energy Coalition (NJ ACRE) and strengthening local support for "the renewal of the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant's operating license." The payments covered Burson-Marsteller's work between June and November 2007, which included carrying out a poll and setting up "speaking engagements and events for Patrick Moore."[34]

B-M has worked for the nuclear company Entergy for several years. "In April 2002, Entergy's communications director told O'Dwyer's PR Daily that the firm had been hired "mainly for the Indian Point issues" -- the security and environmental concerns raised by the company's Indian Point nuclear power plant, located outside New York City -- "but its work now includes handling the overall image of the company." In 2003, Entergy created the "Coalition Against Shutting Down Vermont's Electricity Options" and spent $200,000 to oppose a citizen campaign to close the company's Vermont Yankee nuclear plant in 2012."[35]

2007: Conflict of Interest: Mark Penn, Hillary Clinton, and Colombia

In May 2007, the Nation magazine ran an article about the relationship between Burson-Marsteller's top executive world-wide, Mark Penn, and Hillary Clinton. "As Hillary Clinton charges toward the Democratic nomination for President, her campaign has a coterie of influential advisers. ... But perhaps the most important figure in the campaign is her pollster and chief strategist, Mark Penn, a combative workaholic. ... Yet Penn is no ordinary pollster. Beyond his connections to the Clintons, he not only polls for America's biggest companies but also runs one of the world's premier PR agencies [Burson-Marsteller]."[36]

The Wall Street Journal first reported on April 4, 2008, that Penn "met with Colombia's ambassador to the U.S. on Monday to discuss a bilateral free-trade agreement, a pact the presidential candidate (Clinton) opposes." Burson-Marsteller "has a contract with the South American nation to promote congressional approval of the trade deal."[37] The New York Times later noted that Penn apologized for his conflict of loyalty, saying "the meeting was an error in judgment."[38]

2007: Blackwater USA

As pointed out by Rachel Maddow on her August 2, 2012 show, "when Blackwater killed those 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad, they called Burson-Marsteller."[3] B-M was hired by the two firms representing PMC Blackwater USA, McDermott Will & Emery and Crowell & Moring -- to help with the account in 2007.[39]

According to PRWeek, Burson subsidiary BKSH & Associates was hired through an internal connection at Blackwater to help with Erik Prince's October 2, 2007 testimony to Congress -- this "temporary engagement has ended," according to the article.[40]

2006: Fake News

In July 2006, Burson-Marsteller announced a new partnership with the broadcast PR firm The NewsMarket, which produces video news releases and b-roll footage for clients.

"This partnership enables Burson to offer its clients a highly scalable, fully integrated solution to market and deliver digital content to journalists, new and emerging news platforms, and direct-to-consumers globally in local languages," read the press release. "This marks the first time a PR agency will offer a comprehensive, integrated strategic counsel capability with a digital content management and distribution platform that will enable turn-key execution for clients."[41]

B-M "Made its Name in Crisis Management"

In a listing of PR companies with crisis capabilities, the American Meat Institute listed B-M as having "made its name in crisis communications during the Tylenol tampering case. Other clients for whom Burson has managed crises include Schwan's (Salmonella), Jewel Supermarkets (Salmonella contamination of milk), Perrier (worldwide product recall and relaunch), McDonald's (BSE monitoring) and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (BSE/CJD issues, Jeremy Rifkin)".[42]

2005: Burson and Bush Men

In April 2005, Jack O'Dwyer's Newsletter reported that Burson-Marsteller had joined with Quinn Gillespie & Associates to launch 360 Advantage, a public affairs shop filled with "key players in George W. Bush's successful presidential campaigns."

360 Advantage is headed by Russ Schriefer, who did advertising with the Bush/Cheney 2000 and 2004 campaigns and produced the 2004 Republican National Convention, and by Stuart Stevens, a "Bush adman and veteran political strategist." Schriefer and Stevens were also partners in the Stevens & Schriefer Group in Washington, DC, and have worked on presidential campaigns in the Czech Republic, Nigeria, the Philippines and Congo.[43]

2004: European Women for Front Groups

In January 2004, the Observer (UK) reported that European Women for HPV Testing was a front group being run by B-M campaign for the US biotechnology company Digene. The Observer reported that some of the celebrities cited as endorsing the campaign on the groups website were not aware of the links of the group with Digene.[44]

Following the article, the list of celebrity names on the website was substituted with a message that those previously listed were being "re-contacted to confirm their continued support". B-M also sent a letter to The Observer claiming the articles was "seriously defamatory."[45] However, six weeks later B-M confirmed that no legal action would be taken.[46]

Carmelo Ruiz, in his article available in a link below, mentions many ventures B-M has spearheaded for clients in the past. They created a citizen group named the Coalition for Clean and Renewable Energy to create a positive image for the James Bay 2 hydroelectric dam project in Canada. They were hired by Philip Morris and then created the National Smokers Alliance to combat oncoming smoking restrictions. They infiltrated activist groups opposing the use of rBGH in dairy cows when hired by Eli Lilly and Nutra-Sweet, a subsidiary of Monsanto, to promote the benefits of the hormone. They were hired by A.H. Robbins after their Dalkon Shield IUD failed, damaging thousands of women. They also employed the talents of Otto Reich, former ambassador to Venezuela and head of Reagan's State Department's Office of Public Diplomacy (OPD) which was responsible for spreading disinformation about the Sandinistas in Nicaragua and blocked critical coverage of the Contras. The GAO found their activities to be illegal and Congress shut the office down in 1987.

2003: Crisis Management for USPS after Anthrax Scare

In 2003, the Public Relations Society of America awarded B-M as a co-winner for a campaign it ran for the U.S. Postal Service. According to the PRSA media release, "the campaign helped restore public trust and confidence during and after the anthrax crisis almost two years ago. As a result of these efforts, a public opinion poll taken in December 2001 reflected positive ratings for the Postal Service for its overall handling of the crisis. In fact, a year later, mail volumes were running at pre-crisis levels of 700 million pieces a day."[47]

Burson Marsteller, the Tobacco Industry, and Campaigns on Secondhand Smoke

Burson-Marsteller (B-M) has had a close relationship with cigarette maker Philip Morris (PM), having organized the smokers' rights group the National Smokers Alliance (NSA) for PM in the early 1990s. The purpose of the group was to mobilize smokers on behalf of the tobacco industry to protest clean indoor air laws, increased cigarette taxes and other legislated efforts that would affect cigarette consumption. The smoke-free advocacy organization Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights compiled a report exposing NSA's links to Philip Morris and showing that Philip Morris funded the NSA with $4 million in seed money.[48][49] PM was not the only tobacco company that helped support the NSA. In 1997, Brown & Williamson donated $500,000 in support of NSA.[50]

After the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ruled in 1993 that secondhand tobacco smoke should be ranked as a Group A Human Carcinogen (the same rating EPA gives to asbestos, radon gas and vinyl chloride), Thomas Humber of Burson-Marsteller wrote a memo to Ellen Merlo, Senior Vice President of Philip Morris Corporate Affairs, urging PM to put into action list of strategies to fight public health authorities on the issue of environmental tobacco smoke (ETS).

Humber's objectives included discrediting the EPA and its report, working to prevent private businesses from voluntarily enacting smoking bans, portraying the agency publicly as corrupt, encouraging other businesses to jump in and oppose EPA, to portray EPA as an agency under siege, and "blunt[ing] the thrust of employer and manufacturer liability suits" over employees' exposure to secondhand smoke in the workplace. Humber urged PM to "Sue the bastards!" (meaning the EPA) to "at the very least, delay or cloud precipitous actions against us," and to help "regain some percentage of industry credibility." Humber also postulated that suing the EPA would help "stimulate other [businesses], who have heretofore been too timid to fight back against the EPA, to summon up their own courage for their own battles." Humber recommends these activities be carried out through others, rather than by PM directly. Humber wrote,

...[I]n the interests of overall strategy, all activities...require the recruitment of outside organizations or individuals...against ETS specifics or more general objectives."

Humber said Philip Morris needed to keep major employers from voluntarily stampeding towards smoke-free workplace policies, while at the same time the company should position itself as a defender of democratic principles and protector of "rights for all."

Humber listed agencies through which PM could apply the listed strategies, and proposed that these groups be used to "achieve a rapid start and broadscale umbrellas under which other specific operations can be unfolded."

Humber's memo also reveals his awareness of the risk of potential lawsuits against PM from exposure of employees to ETS in the workplace. To help defray such suits, Humber suggested the immediate establishment of a sort of ETS legal-aid group he called the "ETS Defense Resources Council." Humber claimed this strategy has been effective for other companies, saying,

While [forming such a legal advisory group] will obviously not prevent new laws nor stop employers from imposing workplace smoking bans based on the threat of litigation, the rapid institutionalization of...such a [legal consulting] center would...signal the antis and plaintiffs bar that there will be no free ride on this tobacco issue either.[51]

PM eventually carried out Humber's "sue the bastards" strategy. In 1993, the same year Humber wrote the memo, PM filed a lawsuit in North Carolina before Judge William Osteen claiming the EPA's ruling on secondhand smoke was invalid. Judge Osteen ruled against the EPA, saying the agency had used bad science. The EPA stood by its report and appealed. On December 11, 2002--almost 10 years after the EPA first issue its report on secondhand smoke--the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in the EPA’s favor, and vacated Judge Osteen's opinion.

This memo also reveals the power of major public relations firms to shape the American political landscape. Humber boasts how, through front groups like Citizens for a Sound Economy" and the Institute for Regulatory Policy, B-M arranged a symposium where the vice-president of the U.S. was a keynote speaker, then assured that the media surrounding the event was dominated by the corporate message of "overregulation."

Humber also discusses partnering with ventilation businesses, since they too could profit from PM's stance that ventilation was the singular solution to problems caused by secondhand smoke.

On Media: "If it bleeds, it leads"

Speaking to a 1997 Public Affairs Council conference Jim McAvoy, who went on to work as the head of B-M Media Practice summed up the news media's prioritization as "If it bleeds, it leads." [1]


B-M does not publicly provide a list of its past or current clients. However, a selection of its client list, laregly based on O'Dwyers PR Daily database and other public sources (referenced separately), includes:

Political Action Committee

According to the Center for Responsive Politics database, Burson-Marsteller's federal political action committee raised $72,688 for the 2012 election cycle (as of February 2013), with 50 percent of the donations going to Republicans and 50 percent to Democrats. In the contentions 2010 midterm election, the PAC raised $89,611 and spent $97,250, with 62 percent going to Democrats and 38 percent to Republicans. In 2008, the PAC raised $87,502, with 61 percent going to Democrats and 37 percent to Republicans. In 2006, however, the PAC gave 56 percent of the $74,774 it raised to Republicans and 44 percent to Democrats. In 2004, 59 percent of the $90,149 it raised went to Republicans and 38 percent to Democrats. In 2002, the PAC gave 58 percent of the $105,025 it raised to Republicans and 41 percent to Democrats. In 2000, 56 percent of the $99,853 raised went to Democrats and 44 percent to Republicans. And in 1998, 69 percent of the $78,658 raised went to Republicans and 31 percent to Democrats.[68]



According to a brief introductory note on the Burson-Marsteller website, Harold Burson recounted that the catalyst for the formation of the company was a phone call in February 1952 from Harry Leather, "a close friend at The New York Times." According to Burson, Leather called "to alert me that he had recommended our firm to a Bill Marsteller, owner of an industrial advertising agency in Chicago and Pittsburgh. Marsteller needed a small public relations firm to handle a project for his agency's largest client, Rockwell Manufacturing Company (now Rockwell International). Rockwell wanted to publicize that its chairman, W.F. (Al) Rockwell Jr., had purchased a helicopter for executive travel -- a first."[69]


In 1979, Burson-Marsteller became a part of the Young & Rubicam company, which was in turn bought by the WPP Group in October 2000.


Global Executives

As of February 2013:[5]

  • Worldwide Chair and Chief Executive Officer, Burson-Marsteller / Chairman, Penn Schoen Berland: Donald A. Baer
  • Founding Chairman: Harold Burson (90 years old in 2012)
  • Worldwide Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer: Pat Przybyski
  • Worldwide Managing Director, Human Resources: Rachel Rodin Wolman
  • Worldwide Vice Chair: Karen Hughes
  • Worldwide Vice Chair / Chief Client Officer / Interim Chair, Asia Pacific: Patrick Ford
  • Worldwide Executive Vice President / Interim CEO, Penn Schoen Berland: Jay Leveton
  • CEO, U.S.: Dave DenHerder
  • Worldwide Vice Chair / Chief Client Officer / Interim Chair, Asia Pacific: Patrick Ford
  • Worldwide Vice Chair for Strategy / CEO, EMEA / Chair, Global Public Affairs Practice: Jeremy Galbraith
  • President & CEO, Latin America: Ramiro Prudencio
  • Chief Global Digital Strategist: Dallas Lawrence
  • Chair, Global Healthcare Practice: Helene Ellison
  • Chair, Global Media Practice: Gary R. Koops
  • Chair, Global Brand and Consumer Marketing Practice / Creative Director: Lisa Travatello
  • Chair, Global Technology Practice: Lisa Poulson

U.S. Leadership

As of February 2013:[70]

  • CEO, U.S.: Dave DenHerder
  • President, North America: Michael Law
  • Managing Director, Human Resources, U.S.: Gillian Wohl Edick
  • Executive Vice President / Market Leader, Midwest: Erica Swerdlow
  • Executive Vice President / CEO, Direct Impact: Nicole Cornish
  • Executive Vice President: Bill Orr
  • Chair, U.S. Technology Practice: Sabrina Guttman
  • Chair, U.S. Digital Practice / CEO, Proof Integrated Communications: Michael Bassik
  • Chair, Issues & Crisis Group: Jano Cabrera
  • Chair, U.S. Public Affairs Practice: Nate Tibbits
  • Director, Strategic Creative Development: David Coronna
  • Market Leader, New York: Tony Telloni
  • Market Leader, Washington, DC: Johanna Schneider
  • Market Leader, Southwest: Matt Burns
  • President & CEO, Prime Policy Group: R. Scott Pastrick

Past Personnel

Past employees have included:

In March 2009, Burson-Marsteller hired "former Fannie Mae communications spokesperson Jason Lobo as a director in its U.S. public affairs practice." Lobo "will manage the team servicing Burson-Marsteller client Ginnie Mae and will lead the team’s media relations, executive speech writing, marketing materials development, web site overhaul and third-party outreach activities," the press release said. Before working at mortgage giant Fannie Mae, Lobo was at the Ketchum PR firm.[72]

According to an a O'Dwyers PR Daily profile of the company from the mid-2000's, B-M had over 1,600 employees around the world.

Executive Board

As of December 2005, the Executive Board consisted of:

Contact Information

B-M offices has 43 offices as well as another 82 affiliates companies in 108 countries.[74]

Email: ContactBM AT BM DOT com

Office contact information can be accessed at B-M's website here.

Articles and Resources

Featured SourceWatch Articles on Fix the Debt

Other Related SourceWatch Articles

Other SourceWatch articles on BM activities can be found by looking under B on the list of article titles.

External Articles

See Burson-Marsteller:External articles for a list of news articles and commentaries on the firm.

External Resources


  1. American Meat Institute, Public Relations Firms With Crisis Management Capabilities, trade association website, archived by the WayBack Machine November 7, 2005.
  2. Josh Halliday, Burson-Marsteller: PR firm at centre of Facebook row, The Guardian, May 12, 2011.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 The Rachel Maddow Show for August 2, 2012 (sub. req'd), MSNBC, August 2, 2012.
  4. Burson-Marsteller, O'Dwyer's PR firm database, accessed February 2013.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Burson-Marsteller, Global Leadership, firm website, accessed February 2013.
  6. Don Baer, Arena profile, accessed February 2013.
  7. 40 Under 40, PRWeek, August 1, 2009.
  8. "Findus beef lasagne contained up to 100% horsemeat, FSA says", BBC News (7 February 2013). Retrieved on 7 February 2013. 
  9. Felicity Lawrence, Findus beef lasagne withdrawn after tests show high level of horsemeat, The Guardian, February 7, 2013.
  10. DCI Group lobbied for Morgan Stanley on tax issues in 2006 and 2007, and in 2012 has lobbied for Verizon and ExxonMobil. Senate lobbying records.
  11. Glover Park Group has lobbied in 2012 for Visa, Inc., on tax issues. It has also lobbied for DuPont, Exelon, General Electric, JP Morgan Chase, Lockheed Martin, News Corporation, Pfizer, Sodexho, UnitedHealth Group and other corporations that would get tax breaks under Fix the Debt’s initiatives, and for the American Bankers Association and PhRMA. Senate lobbying records.
  12. Dewey Square Group has lobbied for AT&T, Citigroup and Visa. Senate lobbying records.
  13. DCI Group, Lobbying Report, filed with U.S. Congress on behalf of client Morgan Stanley, July 1 - December 31, 2006.
  14. DCI Group, Lobbying Report, filed with U.S. Congress on behalf of client Morgan Stanley, January 1 - June 30, 2007.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 Virgil Dickson, Burson's Proof unit launches Fix the Debt ad campaign (sub. req'd.), PR Week, November 16, 2012.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Melanie Mason, Fix the Debt hits the airwaves to influence 'fiscal cliff', LA Times, December 14, 2012.
  17. Top CEO Is Go-Between in 'Fiscal Cliff' Talks, Wall Street Journal video, December 14, 2012.
  18. Sarah Anderson and Scott Klinger, Institute for Policy Studies, A Pension Deficit Disorder: The Massive CEO Retirement Funds and Underfunded Worker Pensions at Firms Pushing Social Security Cuts, organizational report, November 27, 2012.
  19. Citizens for Tax Justice, Corporate Taxpayers & Corporate Tax Dodgers, 2008-2010, organizational report, November 3, 2011.
  20. Anna Palmer and Kate Brannen, The big business of the fiscal cliff, Politico, December 5, 2012.
  21. Wendy Priesnitz, Follow the Money, Natural Life, November - December 2012.
  22. 22.0 22.1 Facebook, Burson-Marsteller Incident Flares, O'Dwyer's PR Blog, May 12, 2011.
  23. Dan Lyons, Facebook Busted in Clumsy Smear on Google, The Daily Beast, May 11, 2011.
  24. Geoffrey A. Fowler and Amir Efrati, Facebook Hired PR Firm to Target Google, Wall Street Journal, May 13, 2011.
  25. M.G. Siegler, Sleazy PR Firm Throws Scummy Facebook Under The Sordid Bus, Tech Crunch, May 12, 2011.
  26. Guy Adams, Why did the RSPCA shoot dead more than 40 sheep in a grisly dockside massacre? Mail investigates horrific slaughter of animals unloaded from French lorry, Daily Mail, January 11, 2013.
  27. Michael Bush, Foxconn Crisis Proves Need for Global PR, Ad Age, November 8, 2010.
  28. Jay Greene, Riots, suicides, and other issues in Foxconn's iPhone factories, CNET, September 25, 2012.
  29. Local Briefing, Washington Post, July 25, 2008.
  30. Alexander Bolton, Mark Penn's two firms awarded millions from stimulus for public relations work, The Hill, December 9, 2009.
  31. Article, PR Week, March 2005, website unavailable as of February 2013.
  32. U.S. House Minority Committee on Government Reform, Covert Propaganda, congressional committee investigation, access date unknown, site no longer available. See United States House of Representatives Committee on Government Reform — Minority Staff Special Investigations Division, Federal Public Relations Spending, congressional committee report, January 2005 for reference to B-M's federal PR contracts 2001-2005 without dollar figures.
  33. PRSA remembers Ofield Dukes, APR, Fellow PRSA, Public Relations Society of America publication, December 7, 2011.
  34. Sam Stein, "Mark Penn Tied To Controversial Nuclear Firm," The Huffington Post, February 14, 2008.
  35. Diane Farsetta, "Moore Spin: Or, How Reporters Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Nuclear Front Groups," Center for Media and Democracy / PR Watch, March 14, 2007.
  36. Ari Berman, Spinning Hillary Centrist, The Nation, May 7, 2007.
  37. Susan Davis, Clinton Aide Met on Trade Deal: Penn Held Talks On Colombia Pact Opposed by Senator", Wall Street Journal, April 4, 2008; Page A3.
  38. John M. Broder, Clinton Strategist Lobbied for Trade Pact She Opposes, New York Times, April 5, 2008.
  39. Richard Lardner, Blackwater Aided by PR Giant, Associated Press, October 5, 2007.
  40. Article, PR Week, 2007. Website unavailable as of February 2013.
  41. Burson-Marsteller, Burson-Marsteller Partners with The NewsMarket to Create Proprietary Digital Capability for Clients; Provides Turn-Key Digital Content Delivery to Media and Consumers Globally, firm press release, July 31, 2006.
  42. American Meat Institute, Public Relations Firms With Crisis Management Capabilities, trade association website, archived by the WayBack Machine November 7, 2005.
  43. Jack O'Dwyer's Newletter, Vol. 38, No. 17, April 27, 2005.
  44. Antony Barnett, Revealed: how stars were hijacked to boost health company's profits, The Observer, January 24, 2004.
  45. Article, PR Week, 2004. Website is unavailable as of February 2013.
  46. Article, PR Week, 2004. Website is unavailable as of February 2013.
  47. Public Relations Society of America, Press Release, June 6, 2003. Website is unavailable as of February 2013.
  48. American Nonsmokers' Rights Association, The National Smokers Alliance Exposed: A Report On The Activities Of Philip Morris' #1 Front Group, organizational report, updated November 2004.
  49. National Smokers Alliance (?), Confidential: A Smokers' Alliance: Draft, confidential draft document, July 1, 1993.
  50. Joseph S. Helewicz, Vice President, Public Affairs, Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation, Letter to Thomas Humber, National Smokers Alliance, letter enclosing $500,000 check, June 24, 1997.
  51. Thomas Humber, National Smokers Alliance, Memo to Ellen Merlo RE: ETS, Tobacco Library document, 1993.
  52. Article, PR Week, August 2007. Website unavailable as of February 2013.
  53. Hillary's Marlboro Man. New York Observer (December 19, 2005). Retrieved on August 13, 2008.
  54. Colombia to honor Bill Clinton amid growing Democrat scrutiny, International Herald Tribune, May 24, 2007, archived by Wayback Machine April 12, 2008.
  55. Colin Barraclough, "Chile plans to dam Patagonia wilderness," San Francisco Chronicle, April 7, 2008.
  56. Michael Krauss, Better math, science education key for '05, Chicago Sun-Times, January 3, 2005.
  57. Michael Krauss, Venture funding lag costing Illinois jobs, Chicago Sun-Times, June 27, 2005.
  58. Jon Yates and Bruce Japsen, Brookfield Zoo says ads are coincidence, Chicago Tribune, May 20, 2005.
  59. Michael Krauss, Better math, science education key for '05, Chicago Sun-Times, January 3, 2005.
  60. Michael Krauss, Venture funding lag costing Illinois jobs, Chicago Sun-Times, June 27, 2005.
  61. Climate Group Seeks PR Pitches, O'Dwyer's PR Newsletter, September 19, 2007.
  62. Michael Krauss, Better math, science education key for '05, Chicago Sun-Times, January 3, 2005.
  63. Michael Krauss, Venture funding lag costing Illinois jobs, Chicago Sun-Times, June 27, 2005.
  64. Michael Krauss, Better math, science education key for '05, Chicago Sun-Times, January 3, 2005.
  65. Michael Krauss, Venture funding lag costing Illinois jobs, Chicago Sun-Times, June 27, 2005.
  66. Julie Gozan, MultinatinalMonitor, April 1993.
  67. PR Firms Database, O'Dwyer's PR, date unknown. Website unavailable as of February 2013.
  68. Center for Responsive Politics, PACs: Burson-Marsteller Summary, OpenSecrets.org campaign finance database, accessed February 2013.
  69. Burson-Marsteller, Heritage, firm website, access date unknown. Website is unavailable as of February 2013. A revised version is available here.
  70. Burson-Marsteller, About Us: Regional Leadership: USA, firm website, accessed February 2013.
  71. "B-M Recruits Keeton," O'Dwyer's PR Daily (sub req'd), July 31, 2008.
  72. "Housing Expert Lobo Joins Burson Public Affairs Practice," The Holmes Report (sub req'd), March 23, 2009.
  73. Elizabeth Vicenzino, Burson-Marsteller, Burson-Marsteller Promotes Chris Foster To Chair, U.S. Healthcare Practice, firm press release, January 15, 2008.
  74. Burson-Marsteller, O'Dwyer's PR firm profile, accessed February 2013.

<tdo>resource_id=6623 resource_code=bm search_term=Burson Marsteller confidential</tdo>